I recently read an article that said the Tuesday after Labor Day is traditionally the busiest day of the year for business calls. Wow, that was so true this past week at Sullivan & LeShane!
From calls from clients working on projects to candidates running for office, legislative and administrative staffers looking for details on a number of items and even the media seeking leads for stories---things were hopping this week.
The Capitol and state offices are still closed to the public and almost all employees, only those in senior leadership roles or considered essential are in the buildings. Most days the streets here in Hartford are seemingly empty, but there does appear to be an uptick in foot traffic in the late afternoons-especially on Wednesdays now that the Bushnell Park Foundation is hosting "Picnic in the Park" events.
Speaking of Wednesday and traffic, Capitol Ave. did see a rare day of increased street traffic as one of the largest rallies of the year brought athletes, coaches and parents to the Capitol's doorstep. The large crowd pleaded with the Governor to let high school sports teams play this fall. The Governor is still holding firm on his decision to keep students in the "real" classrooms, allowing them to have meaningful, face-to-face interactions with their teachers and peers. Thus far schools have not caused a substantial rise in positive COVID-19 tests and the nursing home situation appears under control.
Tuesday and Thursday were busy days in the Zoom realm, as we got to watch two public forums on Eversource's electric rate increase and storm management. It's amazing the dialogue remains at such a fierce level of anger over what happened. Legislators are geared up to make significant changes during an upcoming, but tentative, special session and the 2021 session starting in January.
On the election side we're seeing far more socially distanced, in-person fundraisers-and I have to say, many of us are enjoying being able to finally catch up with folks we haven't seen since March. From Milford to Lakeville, Newington and Manchester, legislators are grouping together to make the events easy breezy and fun to attend.
There's still no word on how the legislature will manage convening, nor how they will manage transparency and public engagement. I for one really believe there's a need to have expanded access to the public hearings, committee meetings and floor debates. It just doesn't feel like there was enough engagement or robust engagement during the recent events held over Zoom. With chairs in full control of the virtual sessions and managing the technology and discussion, it's become routine for folks to make their statement, then there's some questioning from the "prime players", but that's it. There's no legislators challenging testimony, seeking more detail or adding additional insights or historical facts.
Fingers crossed the leaders are working on something innovative and transparent that will allow all parties to discuss heated issues that we all know the legislature will need to tackle in 2021. A BIG one being the HUGE deficit and Connecticut's next two-year budget. Hang on, it's going to get messy for sure.